My favorites of 2008.

This last year was an amazing year in art, music, literature and politics, not to mention some serious personal transitions including a 3000 mile coast to coast move back to my hometown in NY. Here are some of the things I loved this last year.
Favorite movie: Milk. You can read what I wrote about it here. I haven’t felt so inspired by a motion picture since Ghandi. Honestly, Slumdog Millionare was a close second, but Milk was my favorite because it combined both great film and a brave and beautiful story.
Favorite Album: Benga, Diary of an African Warrior. For those of you who don’t know me personally, you don’t know that my other personality is that of an electronic music nerd that goes all over the place to dance to new and interesting forms of electronic music. My most recent favorite being a form of music called dubstep. This album got me up and out of my chair consistently and does what we would call, “bring the noise.” Check it out if you dare and remember to keep an open mind.
Favorite art exhibit: Josue Rojas, Deporting the American Dream. Yeah, I know Josue personally, that might be part of it, but his short lived art exhibit in San Francsisco was hands down the best art I saw this year which mixed media, images and one of the most powerful stories, not being told in mainstream media.

Favorite book:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz. Diaz won the Pultizer for this this. I can’t speak highly enough of this book, I have sat to write reviews about it time and again and I feel I have to read it again to do it any justice. If you are a fiction fan, it is a must read. You can also listen to an interview with him here. The man is an inspiration to the aspirations of immigrant writers and artists.
Favorite live show: Erykah Badu with the Roots. Do I really need to say more?

Favorite city: New York. After 7 years on the West Coast I made the move back to NY and fell in love with this city all over again. San Francisco will always be in my heart, but right now, New York is who I am dating.
Favorite moment of 2008: When it was announced that Barack Obama is to be the 44th president of the United States of America. Yeah, that is cheesy and everyone else’s moment, but damn, it was pretty great.
What were your favorite things of 2008?

Join the Conversation

  • Heina

    Sorry to burst your bubble about Gandhi, but he wasn’t the best to the women in his life:
    It’s not just a Xanga entry, either. Plenty of people have debunked the myth that Gandhi was some kind of saint, most notably Penn and Teller.

  • Laura

    Yep, his autobiography talks about how horribly he treated his wife. I think his nonviolent methods of undermining imperialism are important to learn from, but he was far from a good role model.

  • Jenn Astle

    I know I should focus on the positive things, but my absolute favorite moment was watching Sarah Palin near tears at McCains concession speech, especially when she looked like she was going to grab the mic and give her own concession speech. Way to own your way out of the vice presidency, Palin.
    On a more positive note; another favorite moment was spending my “honeymoon” (barf) driving from Toronto to Kansas City where I now live. It was amazing for me to see so much of North America from the road, and I plan on roadtripping the rest of it in the years to come.

  • Ms. Liberty

    Oh, I adored both of the movies you mentioned! I thought Milk was slightly more feminist, although neither passed the DTWOF Test, I don’t believe. But Slumdog Millionaire’s dance scene rocked my world! Dev Patel’s smile is absolutely gorgeous. (And I’m in his age range, so I can say that. :). )

  • Scheherazade

    Another side of this story:
    There isn’t an historical figure that is purely good. Even notable saints have their bad sides. For situations like this, you need to decide for yourself whether the bad out shines the good or vice-versa.

  • Hannah

    Oh, art exhibit is a good one. I think my favorite was Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco because of one photograph series of Susan Sontag in the bathtub after her mastectomy. How many other photographers would show something like that?

  • Wendell

    I’m so bummed I missed Erykah Badu and the Roots. That song is my jam! I love the groove of “Soldier” on the album and they made it work so well in that vid. I love that whole album.
    Oh dear me, Benga knows how to do it! (Myspace as only reference.) The only reference point I have is the recent output of Scorn.

  • Samhita

    You can find some of his stuff on youtube too and for more permanence and money, naturally, Itunes.

  • baddesignhurts

    1) fave movie: i’ll go with “slumdog”. i think it’s because i love “who wants to be a millionaire?” so much. ;) what a lovely movie. i don’t get to see a whole lot of movies….with the 5-year-old around, they’re usually kiddie flicks, but i was just bowled over by this one.
    2) fave album: R.E.M.’s accelerate! but i’ve had a thing for michael stipe fuh-rever. so i’m biased. but it is just a great album.
    3) favorite art exhibit: i saw two fabulous ones this year: one on textiles, and one on the ubiquity of advertising iconography. i forget the names, but the textiles one in particular was unbelievably cool.
    4) fave book: “the year of living biblically” was hilarious and wonderful. i’ve also bought “atmospheric disturbances” by rivka galchen, but haven’t had time to read it yet. (damn grad school interfering with my personal reading time.)
    5) fave city: i feel like i’ve traveled all over the damn place this year, and one of the places i revisited this year was cambridge, massachusetts, and i had forgotten how lovely it is. but, i have to say, i’m loving where i like (phoenix, arizona) more and more every year. let’s get a little desert love!
    6) best moment of ’08: on the societal side, watching obama win that election (especially after all the campaign volunteering i did this year) was just…..tremendous. i actually got an older lady to promise to go vote for him who said she had never voted before. i felt wonderful. the best personal moment of ’08 was meeting my wonderful brilliant feminist boyfriend. when we first met, we compared the blogs each of us read, and he even reads feministing. :) ’09 should be even better….we’re getting married. :)
    as a future architect, i think we should throw in an extra category: best building! ine would have to be renzo piano’s california academy of sciences in golden gate park in san francisco. absolutely beautiful, and one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings in the world. :)

  • fatima

    oh erykah badu. shes so goddamn beautiful it makes my heart hurt!

  • Wendell

    Thanks! I found him on my fave emusic-purchasing sites: Bleep and Boomkat. I dunno if more $ actually goes to artists from those, though. I’ll have to look into it.
    (The combo of the beat and the bass of “3 Minutes” is propulsive as hell! And tasty.)

  • rachel

    slumdog and milk were both delightful to watch, but neither one was remotely feminist. milk portrayed the LGBTQ struggle as one primarily in the hands of gay white men. the ONE dyke character was awesome, but what about people of color and trans folks who have been and continue to be active in queer movements? i thought slumdog millionaire was cinematicaly creative, but ultimately a conventional hollywood romance which equals fundamentally patriarchal. the female love interest was put on a pedestal and had no personality or agency. the pure girl who becomes a whore and then is saved by the boy who still sees her as the pure girl she once was is SUCH a tired archetype.
    my favorite movie of 2008 was “the edge of heaven.” (
    i also thought that doubt, while not a particularly wonderful movie, was a pretty powerful example of how patriarchy hurts everybody.

  • EvilSlutClique

    But I think we do need to recognize that she was referring to the film and not merely the person. There’s a difference between saying “I was inspired by the film Gandhi“, “I was inspired by the work of Gandhi” and “I was inspired by the person Gandhi”. Not that we should overlook his ‘flaws’ necessarily, but just take it all in context.

  • EvilSlutClique

    We made our own year in review list of our favorite and least favorite moments of 2008.
    We listed California legalizing gay marriage as one of the greatest accomplishments of 2008… and then the passing of Prop 8 as one of the worst letdowns of 2008. Sigh.
    Michael Savage gets the privilege of making our Top 5 Biggest Douchebags of 2008 (for the stuff he said about autistic children) and the Starbucks slutty mermaid made our Dumbest Protests of ’08 list.
    Overall a strange year.

  • pinkpicnic

    Junot Diaz is a womanizing cheater. He was a visiting writer in the Spanish Department at my undergrad and took some liberties with the students (one was a friend). He did some nasty shit to her for a while, so everytime I hear about his success and his book dedications to his wife, it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

  • ahimsa

    I don’t have choices for all the items but I will share a couple of my favorite books from 2008.
    For fiction, I’d choose Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It was the winner of the Orange Prize in 2007. It is never easy to read about war but this is a book that’s well worth it. See for details.
    For non-fiction, The Riddle of Gender by Deborah Rudacille gets my vote. See

  • ahimsa

    I should have noted that these were the favorites that I read in 2008. They were published fairly recently (2007 or 2006) but not in 2008.

  • MaggieElisabeth

    rachel — holler
    i felt the exact same way about slumdog millionaire. i’m really surprised more people haven’t talked about this issue. anyway, you said it better than i could have. thanks for putting it out there.
    in terms of MILK, i agree with you about the absence of people of color and transfolk, but my understanding is that historically (for better or worse) the gay rights movement of the 70’s was pretty homogenous. but i’d be happy to be proved wrong!

  • Nicole

    Yes to the Brief and Wondrous Life! I am currently reading that book right now! My eyes lit up when I saw that! It’s so rare that a male author devotes so much space to writing strong female characters. More strong females than males, in fact. The women are more interesting than the men. (Note: not better people, not nicer, not smarter, just more interesting. Very rare in fiction, even in fiction written by women.) Lola is such an awesome character, I want to BE her.
    I am love, love, loving this book and am almost done, can’t wait to finish! Killer writing style, great characters, awesome dialogue, and stellar flow of infromation, everything’s so lucid and fresh.

  • Stephen A

    That Benga album is sick! Good call. Skream’s “Skreamizm 5″ EP is big too.

  • DJ Shiva

    Yay for the dubstep love! Feminists who love bass. My favorite combination!!